Biden Pivots Vaccine Drive to Grassroots to Reach 70% of Public
(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden, confronting waning demand for Covid-19 vaccinations, is shifting focus to grassroots efforts to reach his goal of getting at least one shot to 70% of U.S. adults by next month.
His administration will work with churches, colleges, businesses and celebrities to boost coronavirus vaccinations in the U.S. Biden announced on Wednesday initiatives such as free child care for people getting vaccinated, extended hours at pharmacies and phone banking to encourage people to get inoculated.
“It’s clearer than ever -- the more people we get vaccinated, the more success we’re going to have in our fight against the virus,” Biden said.
Biden has said he wants to reach his 70% shot goal by July 4th, when the country celebrates Independence Day. About 62.9% have received at least one dose so far. Biden is on pace to hit his target, barring a sharp new slowdown.
The administration’s new effort -- after earlier focusing on mass vaccination sites -- comes as the pace of shots in the U.S. has slowed to the lowest level since January, when vaccines were in short supply. The U.S. is now giving out about 1.2 million shots per day, down from a high of 3.4 million from mid-April.
Cases of the virus and deaths have continued to decline. The 7-day average of cases has fallen to roughly 16,000, the lowest level since March of 2020, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show.
Biden warned those who aren’t vaccinated that they could suffer long-term effects from Covid-19.
“If you are vaccinated, you are protected,” he said. “If you are not vaccinated, you are not protected.”
New initiatives to encourage vaccination include free child care from four national providers for people getting shots or recovering from side effects. There will also be extended hours at pharmacies, a community canvassing program and a program to set up vaccinations at Black-owned barbershops. Vice President Kamala Harris will also embark on a national tour to tout vaccinations.
Biden also touted new incentives, such as a pledge by Anheuser-Busch InBev to give away free beer if the U.S. hits its 70% target, and a sweepstakes by CVS Health Corp. Biden also announced a new website, WeCanDoThis.hhs.gov, designed to increase public confidence in vaccines.
Biden, in December, pledged that he would administer 100 million shots in his first 100 days, a pace he essentially inherited when he took office. He more than doubled that target by the first 100 days. As domestic production outpaces demand, Biden has said he’ll donate 80 million doses by the end of this month, on top of doses that U.S. manufacturers have begun exporting directly.
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